The first thing which instantly grabs you about Concept: Drums and Bass – For Tomorrow’s Rhythm Section is that it is written for two people, a drummer AND a bass player. Written by Paul A Francis, (who has a very busy playing and academic career) this book hones in on playing challenging for both instruments, and then giving you the freedom in certain areas to expand on your own creativity. The other advantage it offers is you can practice these tracks by yourself; it is not essential to pair up with a drummer. To maximize what you get from the book, it is a good idea to try and get these jammed with a partner.
The book highlights exactly what it wants to offer you in the beginning ‘this book does not propose to teach you something you do not know’ he aims to help you do the following:
1) Put it in the pocket
2) Hold it down
3) Style it out
These are 3 key areas we all work on as a rhythm section, trying to use the idea of all 3 at once (pulling it in and out, understanding and internalizing the style as well as holding back when it feels right) can be hard to practice effectively. This is a great book for developing these ideas in a constructive and interesting way.
The styles of the 6 pieces are musically mature, fusion, Afro jazz, slap, Latin, folk (with a twist) and New Orleans. Even if none of these genres seem to interest you, the lines and the way the pieces are constructed are great benefit to you creativity across 4/8/16/32 bars. The font is jazz, which gives it a more casual feel and also doesn’t make it seem as prescribed, like you would expect.
Executed well, is the books ability level for both instruments. This does not having one instrument holding down the groove while the other just shreds/solos/experiments. There’s enough space for both parties to show they can hold down the groove and improvise. It is constructed so that both instruments are almost syncopated in parts, and free in others. It creates a ‘conversation’ and can spark a lot of creative ideas, as well as improve your chops and various techniques.
As bass players, our musical journey is never ending. There is always something to explore or just one more thing we need to work on. As we start progressing down this road, the options for learning materials becomes more and self dependent, this book however, is stated at being for level 6, so post graduate study. However even if you have no form of study, but you are very confident in your ability and fancy a challenge, then this is the book for you.
Players such as Slash, preach the idea that you get a lot better by playing with other musicians as opposed to yourself. This book is definitely a step in that direction and the promotion of Academic books encouraging you to work with other people is a great welcome.